Sony Computer Entertainment has filed a patent for an "Expandable Control Device Via Hardware Attachment" - the PS3's new motion-controlled magic wand, in other words
According to the patent application one model for the wand consists of a handle, a connector and a removable attachment. Another model has an attachment which "provides additional communication capabilities".
Examples given for use of the wand include flying virtual kites, karate fighting and sword fighting. The light-up ping pong ball is said to be able to provide feedback - "such as being when the player is "hit," to indicate the amount of life left, to flag when the controller is occluded from view of the camera, etc."
The application also suggests the controller may feature a battery which can be removed. You'll be able to use an alternative power source while it's recharging. Another model works like the DualShock 3 - you connect a USB cable to charge the battery while it's still attached to the controller.
Looks like there will be an attachment which can store data files and transfer them between the controller and the PS3. "The files can be used to identify a specific user, to configure the controller or the base system, to load a game, to add features to existing games, etc.," reads the patent.
"For example, one file is a game that is loaded to the base station for playing, another file contains karaoke songs that can be used in a sing-along game, another file contains new player rosters and statistics for an update to a sports game, etc."
The application also suggests you'll be able to store information such as your preferred game settings before you go round your mate's house. "The player can then use the attachment in a different gaming system to play with other players using the configuration obtained from the original gaming system."
Other add-ons mentioned in the filing include a baseball bat attachment which "includes lights along its length that can be used for interactivity purpose, such as indicating the strength of the swing or the location where the imaginary baseball hits the baseball bat attachment during a swing".
Then there's an attachment containing beads which rattle when the controller is shaken, "thus making the controller operate as maracas or as a child's rattle". Another one features a microphone for "karaoke or voice-command entry". In one model the microphone is directional and "attenuates or completely eliminates sounds coming from preconfigured directions".
Perhaps most interesting is the biometic add-on. One model for the controller "includes a thumb reader used to validate the identity of the person holding the controller by analysing the biometric data provided by the attachment". This data can be used to disable the controller or PS3 if an unauthorised user tries to have a go.
The biometric data could also be useful when it comes to save games. "For example, a game in the base station can be restarted at a point where the player last stopped playing the game," reads the filing.
All very exciting. Here's hoping the PS3 magic wand is still on track for that spring 2010 release.